Because Janalen and Rocky were having a difficult time having children and they thought they would adopt all of their children when she found out she was pregnant with her first daughter. Abby. Not long after she was born, they found out she had Cystic Fibrosis.
They were devastated. They grieved the life they thought they were going to have, but were able to accept their daughter’s diagnosis, and quickly became an advocate for her. Not long after, their second daughter, Katie was born. They immediately knew something was different with Katie. A short time later, Katie was diagnosed with Prader-Willis syndrome, and Cystic Fibrosis. At the time, she was the only person ever to be diagnosed with both conditions.
It was though raising their two daughters with special needs, that they were empowered to care for other children who needed a loving home.
Over the years, Janalen and Rocky have had an additional biological child, and have opened their home and hearts by adopting 5 more children: 3 from the US, 1 from the Congo, and 1 from China. Out of their 5 adopted children, 3 have special needs.
Rocky said, “It’s been a roller coaster of emotions and learning, and a lot of fun. I wouldn’t do it differently.” Rocky also stated that they’ve seen nothing but blessings. “It has strengthened our entire family. Our relationships are better than they were.” With their last child, he was worried about bringing another child into the family, “She has been really a galvanizing rod for our family.”
Raising Children Who Have Special Need Can Be Daunting and Busy
“People ask us all the time ‘How do you do it’?” Their oldest two daughters have Cystic Fibrosis and one of them also has Prader-Willi syndrome. Adding a child with Down syndrome just fit with their lives. Emma Joy had a heart condition, but it was repaired while she was still in China. Janalen and Rocky were already set up for a child with disabilities. Janalen said, “…and that’s just all we’ve ever known. So bringing on another child who had some medical issues and the disability that needs therapy and all of those things, she really hasn’t added anything more.”
The Blessings of Being a Parent to a Child with Special Needs
Rocky admits that at first he had worries and concerns about raising a child with special needs, but these concerns quickly dissolved. He tells us “The joy that comes when you sacrifice for other people and other things…It helps you to focus on the things that really matter in this life and to take joy in the simple things that we often take for granted.”
Janalen also said, “They bless your life so much. The joy that they bring into your home, that little spirit, they are little angels and they light up your home.”